Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘palenque’

Mexico in a Bottle Denver, in pictures

Holy cow was that crazy and insane, and yes even a little fun – two days of agave (oh and Mexican rum!) and 1200 people, it was a not for the faint of heart.Denver, you are one beautiful town with hands down the nicest Lyft drivers anywhere, and a taco scene that gives LA a run for the money. Read more

Denver, a test case for mezcal (and events within an event)

The first thing you notice about Denver, beyond the the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains on one side and the great eastern plain on the other is how much the town is booming. The amount of construction projects is not to be believed, which makes sense given the population there has grown 15.5% since 2010. Read more

Mezcal in Michoacan

Mezcal can be made in many places, 7 Mexican states to be precise, so you would expect wide variation in tastes and how it’s made. Here’s a quick post from Alvin Starkman about how things are done in a particular palenque, or vinata as it’s called in Michoacan.

 

Update: A reader points out that Michoacan received it’s denominación de origen in February so there are now 8 states in Mexico authorized to make mezcal.  We apologize for that error.

The small world of mezcal, Oaxaca style

First of all, it’s great to be back in Oaxaca. There is the hot sun, warm evenings that lend themselves to long conversations into the middle of the night, over mezcal of course. The smell of fresh, hot tortillas, the bustle of the market, the setting sun over the mountains, and that golden glow that settles over the cobblestone streets.

Enjoying a selection of tobala, tobaciche and arrenqueño at La Biznaga

 

And then there is that whole small world thing, that just seems to get smaller and smaller each week. It all came about when a friend of a friend said to me – oh, my uncle has a palenque and you should meet him. Several flurried text messages later, it was set – we would meet the uncle in Matatlan, the first visit of three palenque visits that day. And so began the usual process of getting the rental car, buying empty bottles, fortifying our stomachs with memelitas and then heading out from the city.

 

Stones being fired for the roast

“We” this time encompassed three women (two foreign, one Oaxaqueña) a baby and the one man, the nephew of the palenquero. We arrived at the palenque and saw that a roast was just getting underway. The stones were being fired up – in this case about 7 hours of heating – and the maguey hearts were being split and readied to go into the pit. It was all very dramatic with the heat, the sound of metal slicing, the dark, pluming clouds.

We escaped into the cool of the palenque and met the uncle, Don Enrique Jimenez, a third FOURTH generation palenquero. He walked us around and showed us two rather extraordinary things – a still created to distill mezcal five times (usually it is double distilled) and a room that looked like something out of a horror movie in which the maguey is steam roasted, creating a “sin humo” (without smoke) mezcal. This is apparently an incredibly expensive and unique thing here and very much an experiment.

Palenquero Enrique Jimenez

The still for 5 distillations

The room for steaming the maguey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The conversation ran back and forth between the process, the flavors, the changing dynamics of the mezcal market, and the artisanal brands available in the United States. I mentioned recently tasting the Fidencio Madrecuixe and how much I loved the flavor. Don Enrique smiled hugely and then told me that he was the palenquero for that brand. This happy news was soon followed by some incredibly sad news. Only 300 bottles of that madrecuixe were produced – perfectly understandable and respectful as that is the way of artisanal mezcal production. The sad news: Apparently it is not a good year for the wild magueys thus far. They are too small, their flavor too lacking, the prices to high for any that are good. In short, at this time, there will be no more madrecuixe produced, so if you are one of the lucky ones to have a bottle, enjoy.

Some of Don Enrique Jimenez's brands

 

I am going to continue to look into this situation and will keep you posted. The mere thought of a year of wild maguey shortage is a heartbreak almost too much to bear.